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Info 101: Musicbits 58: Sometimes life makes us all Spitfire

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Spitfire by LeAnn Rimes

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"SPITFIRE" by LEANN RIMES: Curb Records

Music--especially country music--is supposed to be open straightforward and honest. Although she started recording at age 12, LeAnn Rimes is not a little girl any more. It's been 18 years and 11 albums since Blue made us all ignore how very young she was. That dynamic voice has matured into a controlled, highly disciplined instrument and Rimes now co-writes a lot of her material. She is open, honest, hostile, vulnerable, real, even self-deprecating at times. She is still and will always be one of the best singers ever.

Spitfire is her third consecutive country album, her latest and in many ways her best. It's deeply personal for her, her way of reaching out and communicating her innermost thoughts to her fans. It's not rocket science what her message is--she makes no effort to conceal anything. It's pure LeAnn at her best doing what she does best.

The most obvious tracks to pinpoint are "Borrowed" and "What Have I Done". Both relate to the affairs she and now husband Eddie Cibrian had that ended their respective marriages. LeAnn claims "What Have I Done" was about a friend but even her first husband saw through that in no time. "Oh, what have I done?" she laments, her words dripping with pain. "I broke the sweetest heart of the only man that ever loved me." LeAnn sings it in the classic country style that conjures more images of sitting in a bar, crying into a beer.

"Borrowed" is even more traditional. LeAnn sings, "I know you're not mine, only borrowed...but I don't want to give you back, you're the best I'll ever have, but you're borrowed." The heartbreak is transparent in her voice and it's truly one of her most beautiful songs to date. Of course, the tribute to Mr. C. turns into the ego-boosting "You've Ruined Me" several songs later. Toward the end of the disc, she takes a shot at judgmental people in "Got Takes Care of Your Kind", a nice touch considering how many shots she's taken from the nosy, self-serving tabloid types of late.

The most fun and interesting track is "Just a Girl Like You". The lyrics are fine but beside the point. What makes it so fun is the vocal interplay LeAnn engages in with the acoustic guitar-line. It's always fun to hear a great singer be close to the supporting instruments and these four minutes of light-hearted whimsy are playful and fun in stark contrast to the hard and heavy emotions. True LeAnn fans will love this disc while the fair-weather fans will dismiss it and fall away. Either way, it's an album of true emotions and great music bolstered along the way by Alison Krauss and Jeff Beck.

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